The Family Sponsored stream of the Skilled Work Regional (subclass 491) Visa is a provisional 5-year visa for skilled workers under the age of 45 in regional Australia. It provides a direct pathway to permanent residence after 3 years from the date of grant, provided that you meet certain income and residence requirements.
As the name of the stream suggests, you must be sponsored by an ‘eligible relative’ which must be first approved before you may be granted the visa.
The 491 is a points-based visa and requires an invitation from the Department of Home Affairs in order to apply for the visa.
BASICS OF FAMILY SPONSORED 491 VISA: INVITATION
You may only apply for the 491 Family Sponsored Visa if you are invited to by the Department. This involves submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) that indicates your total points score which is then ranked against other applicants to determine whether you will be issued an invitation.
Factors being considered include:
- English ability and
- work experience
will contribute to a more competitive score and increase your prospects of receiving an invitation.
Invitation rounds for the 491 Family Sponsored Visa are anticipated to run quarterly, with the dates for each round subject to change. The number of invitations issued in each round will vary depending on the number of applications to be processed. Generally, those occupations that contribute to Australia’s economic recovery from Covid-19 will be preferenced, however, this is subject to review as the situation with COVID progresses.
The legislative minimum is 65 points, however, the average score for an invitation may be higher, so you should aim to maximise your total score as much as possible. Aside from the obvious, there are several other ways in which you may claim additional points for the 491 visa. For more information on this, read one of our previous articles on how to increase your points for skilled migration.
Invitation Occupation List for the 491 Visa
Your nominated occupation must be on the Medium and Long Term List for the Family Sponsored stream of the 491 visa, for which you will also need a positive skills assessment. This occupation list is reviewed regularly and is subject to change based on changes in the Australian labour market. Pending visa applications and current 491 visa holders will not be adversely affected by the removal of an occupation as this will only apply to those who are yet to submit their application. You should review the occupation list regularly to ensure that your occupation is eligible for the 491 Family Sponsored visa before you proceed with your application.
Who qualifies as an “Eligible Family Member” under the 491 subclass Visa?
To be eligible to sponsor a 491 visa applicant, the sponsor must be:
- 18 years of age or older;
- usually resident in a designated regional area of Australia;
- an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen; and
- an eligible relative of you or your partner.
An eligible relative can be one of the following:
- a parent
- a child or step-child
- a brother, sister, adoptive brother, adoptive sister, step-brother or step-sister
- an aunt, uncle, adoptive aunt, adoptive uncle, step-aunt or step-uncle
- a nephew, niece, adoptive nephew, adoptive niece, step-nephew or step-niece
- a grandparent, or
- a first cousin
In determining whether the sponsor is usually resident in a designated regional area of Australia, the Department will consider the sponsor’s actual physical residence, that is, where the sponsor physically sleeps and has their usual abode.
The Department will likely request evidence such as
- rates notices or rental agreements,
- utility bills,
- address on the electoral roll, and
- tax returns.
A sponsor who has been living in a designated regional area on a temporary visa but has only recently acquired permanent residence may still satisfy the ‘usually resident’ requirements.
491 Family Sponsored Visa provides a Pathway to Permanent Residence
The 491 Family Sponsored Visa provides a direct pathway to permanent residence after 3 years of holding the visa. Those who continue to live and work in a designated regional area of Australia will be eligible to transition to the subclass 191 visa. You must have had a taxable income at or above the specified income threshold, currently $53,900, for at least 3 years while holding the 491 visa in a regional area. You will be asked to provide your Notice of Assessments issued by the Australian Tax Office and evidence of your residence for this 3 year period. It is essential that you remain in a regional area of Australia for the entire 3 years, otherwise you will not be eligible for permanent residence.
The Family Sponsored stream of the 491 Visa is a great option for those with an eligible relative living in a designated regional area of Australia and provides a direct pathway to permanent residence. For more information and a free initial assessment, contact No Borders Law Group to speak with one of our migration lawyers.
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